Everybody knows that babies and toddlers really need their sleep. But how much sleep should we expect them to be getting? As we recently covered in our article The Best Settings for Daytime and Night Time Sleep, children need varying amounts of sleep depending on their age. For infants, they need roughly 12-15 hours of sleep a day, which will usually be obtained through their night sleep plus a nap or two. However most of the time your child will wake up at least once during the night, and this can be suchhh a pain. This is a necessary wake up and one that will continue. Why is this?
The reason is that children have much smaller stomachs than adults (they are just tiny versions of us after all!). Because their digestive systems are so much smaller than ours, they cannot take in enough food to sustain them throughout the entire night. Therefore, they need to wake up every few hours for an extra feed to keep them going, which is perfectly normal, as frustrating as that may be!
How often your baby will eat depends on what they are being fed and their age range. These night time feeds should start dropping down around the 6-month mark (depending on the individual child), but it is not uncommon for there to still be one feed needed up to the age of 12 months. On average, your baby will awaken and be ready to eat about every 3 hours (around 2-3 times per night). There are also cases where your child may be a naturally excellent sleeper and end up sleeping through from only 1-2 months of age, but it is definitely best to prepare for at least one wake per night.
Now that we know why they are waking up and when to expect it, the next thing you’re probably wondering is: “well how can I get them the best sleep possible between these feeds at least?”. Let’s take a look at two very useful techniques.
Establishing a bedtime routine
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times “routine, routine, routine!”, and there’s a good reason for it. Establishing a healthy and consistent bedtime routine not only benefits your child, but it can help us as well. The key to maintaining a bedtime routine is simple: repetition. Once we set our routine goals, we need to stick with them consistently to set it in stone and make it effective. For example; if I were to set my goal as bath time at 6, bottle at 6:30 and bed at 7, I would need to follow that every day to create the pattern that allows the child to register the routine with going to sleep. This will make life much easier on the both of you as bedtime will become less of a hassle, and they will get their much needed 3-4 hours before their first wake up.
Make sure your child isn’t falling asleep in your arms
Many parents find the act of rocking/feeding their child to sleep to be a relatively painless and quick process to get your child to sleep, and it definitely can be. However, this can create a pattern in the child’s mind that associates the act of being held with falling asleep, and if they wake up briefly during the night between sleep cycles this may be the only way to get them back down. A good method of putting your child to sleep initially to combat this association is to hold them until they become drowsy, and then transfer them to their cot before they fall asleep. This allows the child to learn how to fall asleep on their own and in turn can improve their ability to self-settle in the night.
It is important to remember that it is completely natural and expected for children aged under 6 months to be waking up 2-3 times per night, however every child is different. If you follow the techniques above you should be able to help your child get the most amount of sleep possible between wake ups, as well as give yourself some reprieve between them as well. If you have an older child that is still waking up multiple times for feeds, see if these techniques help you, or get in contact with our customer care team here for some advice on how to get the best out of your Glow Dreaming.